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'Diggstown' unafraid to uncover uncomfortable truths

The third season of CBC's hit show kicked off on Wednesday
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Vinessa Antoine plays Marcie Diggs on CBC's Diggstown

The latest season of Diggstown offers a nuanced, in-depth method of exploring the hard-hitting topics creator Floyd Kane has never shied away from.

Diggstown's third season — which began Oct. 6, 2021 — offers Kane even more opportunity to tell his stories and the stories of African-Nova Scotian citizens.

“It feels good to be able to do this," he said. "We have eight episodes this season, as opposed to six. It gave us an opportunity to arc out more this season, and tell better stories in addition to cases.

“Audiences will embrace the journey and get a full picture of what we're trying to accomplish with this show.”

Diggstown is about corporate lawyer Marcie Diggs who begins working for Legal Aid following a family member's ordeal with malicious prosecution.

“When we started this, it was supposed to be about Marcie and her deciding to work for Legal Aid," Kane said. "She wanted to make sure what happened to her late aunt wouldn't happen to anyone else. But this has evolved into an ensemble.

“Marcie is at the head of things, but we've seen a journey develop. In season three, we see that Marcie started to realize Legal Aid isn't the perfect system for doing the things she wants.”

Kane, who is Nova Scotian, says he loves where he comes from but has to acknowledge the area still has issues with racism.

“We have a serious class problem, and you can be critical of something and still love it," he said. "This show has two sides: we have a specific point-of-view but we talk about difficult issues and give the audiences everything.

“Canadians may not always want to engage in what we talk about as entertainment, but it's important.”

He spoke about an issue where a woman was assaulted in the province, she went to the police and they never followed up. The case went to the human rights board.

“In this day and age, if this is still happening, we need to talk about it," he said. "We must look at accountability on some level, and if we refuse to look and engage with these issues, we are complicit."

One thing that originally changed season three and the writing of it was COVID-19. They originally began writing in the winter of 2019, took a hiatus and the Portapique mass shooting occurred in the interim.

“We wanted to focus on intimate partner violence and have discussions about women being abused by male partners," Kane said. "Originally, there was going to be a shooting at Legal Aid at the mid-point of the season, and then we'd deal with the fallout. But once the shooting in Nova Scotia happened, we decided against it.

“When we reconvened, COVID was going on but we didn't want the whole show to revolve around it. But a few things that got our attention were then Premier Stephen McNeil referring to North Preston as a case for hotspots and the issues at Northwood. We began discussing issues in terms of care and safe work conditions not provided to senior care workers.”

Kane discussed the fact that Diggstown and the writers don't shy away from important material or topics, and it's crucial to talk openly.

“We aren't a pollyanna show," he said. "I grew up here, and there are issues here. Diggstown reframes the narrative to Black and Indigenous residents and puts them in the centre, along with white Nova Scotians."

Vinessa Antoine plays Marcie Diggs on the hit CBC show and gave her thoughts on the new season.

“I'm really excited about this season," she said. "It's an intense season, and the characters are a year after COVID started. It's been a while, and they've gone through some big shifts. I'm excited to see how the audience feels about how everyone went.

“When we first started shooting, we all had to quarantine. We were excited to start, and shortly after — within a week or so — we shut down due to the lockdown. It was a lot because we had cast members coming from outside of Nova Scotia. We had people from L.A. getting stuck, and we were shooting around them. Also, all the other protocols were in place, and then our first episode centred on a COVID storyline, so it was heavy.”

Diggstown takes on incredibly diverse, huge issues, and Antoine is happy to be part of a show that doesn't placate audiences.

“When I first started, it was something that stuck out," she said. "We were a place where these injustices and issues could be talked about. We looked through the lens of our characters and discussed Canadian stories. It was almost like a 2-for-1. We told stories in ways that were digestible but caused conversation.

“I think that a lot of the stories Floyd Kane has created are ripped from the headlines. They come from actual stories that happened, and there's so much more to be done. But this is a season of reckoning, discovery, education and hopefully entertainment along with that.”

Diggstown airs Wednesday nights live on CBC and can be streamed on the CBC Gem app.



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About the Author: Jordan Parker

Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. He's been a movie nerd since he was old enough to walk.
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